The Best Acne-Clearing Products: 11 Products That Should Be in Every Acne-Fighting Lineup

The Best Acne-Clearing Products: 11 Products That Should Be in Every Acne-Fighting Lineup featured image
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Caring for acne-prone skin is complicated—striking a balance between pampering skin with gentle ingredients and treating it with potent ones is no easy feat. In the search for skin-clearing products, it can be hard to differentiate what you need and what you don’t, what is too harsh and what isn’t potent enough. Even stepping foot into the acne product aisle can be daunting for those struggling on their acne clearing journey.

If you’re unsure which ingredients you should be keeping in mind when searching for acne products, take a look at these derm-approved staples to give you a good baseline when shopping for a skin-care lineup approved for acne-prone complexions.

The Best Ingredients for Clearing Acne

Salicylic acid

Louisville, KY, dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD says salicylic is a comedolytic agent that helps dry up and turn over the skin. “I love to wash my face twice a week [with salicylic acid] to help exfoliate and dry up any little pimples that just might be trying to come my way,” she says, noting that the acid is “mild, so even sensitive skin can use sparingly.”

Benzoyl peroxide

Perhaps the most widely known acne-clearing ingredient, benzoyl peroxide works simply by killing acne-causing bacteria. Found in formulas from washes to spot treatments, this mainstay anti-inflammatory is easy to fold into your routine. If your skin tends to be on the oilier side, benzoyl peroxide is a great acne-fighting ingredient, as it kills the bacteria that sits on top of the skin, as opposed to clearing from underneath like salicylic acid.

Azaelic acid

Beloved for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, azelaic acid is another MVP when it comes to treating acne. Not only does the acid treat the blemishes, but it also works to fade the appearance of hyperpigmentation that may occur as a result. So, if you’re struggling with both acne and acne scars or other hyperpigmenation-related issues like melasma, azaelic acid is a great fit.

Glycolic acid

The multitasking star of the skin-clearing show, glycolic acid is able to penetrate the skin easier because of its small molecular makeup. On the acid’s list of skin-boosting abilities: clearing blemishes, purifying pores, boosting collagen and adding radiance.

The Best Product for Acne-Prone Skin

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An Over-The-Counter Adapalene Treatment

“My go to over-the-counter acne treatment for those not on a prescription retinoid is adapalene, found in Differin Gel and La Roche Possay Effaclar Adapalene ($36),” says New York dermatologist Heidi A. Waldorf, MD. “Both products contain 0.1% adapalene. While most retinoids are lose potency with UV exposure or when used at the same time of benzoyl peroxide, adapalene can be used day or night, alone or with benzoyl peroxide. Like all retinoids, adapalene works to improve cell turnover in sebaceous follicles and inflammation to reduce both comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules and pustules.”

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A Sure-Fire Pimple Patch

Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Pimple Patches ($8) are fantastic to speed clearing of individual red pimples or pustules,” explains Dr. Waldorf. “The round hydrocolloid dressings are nonirritating and can be left in place overnight or worn during the day. They absorb fluid from the pimple, keep the skin moist to promote healing, and block fingers from picking and popping.”

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A Light Therapy Treatment

Blue and red-light therapy have been known to work wonders for acne-prone skin. Using the power of both blue and red light technologies, Solawave’s Bye Acne ($69) clears active pimples by killing bacteria and prevents future breakouts while calming redness and inflammation, all in just 3 minutes a day.

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A Vitamin-Rich Supplement

“I recommend jane iredale’s Skin Accumax Dietary Supplement ($26) due to its unique formulation which combines vitamins A, C, and E with a beneficial phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, helping to effectively improve the appearance of non-cystic acne,” says Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD. “Many of my acne patients are interested in more natural treatment options that don’t involve antibiotics and this one is an excellent choice that seems to work nicely for mild-to-moderate acne.”

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A Clarifying Mask

Clarifying masks can work wonders on acne-prone skin, helping to unclog pores, reduce redness and prevent future breaks. Paula’s Choice’s CLEAR Purifying Clay Mask ($29) is a multi-action clay mask that uses green tea and willowherb calm redness and three different clays to control oil and shine, treating current breakouts and preventing more.

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A Hydrating, Calming Mask

One common mistake patients with acne often make is over-drying or stripping the skin. As important as clarifying ingredients and treatments are, having a product that hydrates and soothes skin is equally as important. SkinCeuticals’ Phyto Corrective Mask ($66) is a leave-on, overnight treatment that helps restore moisture and soothe sensitivity.

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A Pore-Clearing Cleanser

A cleanser that’s potent enough to cleanse and de-grease skin without stripping it is hard to come by. The experts at CeraVe nailed the impossible with their Acne Control Cleanser ($19), an efficacious, wallet-friendly formula that’s packed with blemish-busting salicylic acid, oil-absorbing clays and nourishing ceramides.

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A Noncomedogenic SPF 

Noncomedogenic products, meaning they won’t clog pores, are always a good idea for those with acne-prone skin, but especially when shopping for a sunscreen. Experts can’t get enough of EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($43), an oil-free sunscreen created specifically for the skin type.

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A Lightweight Day Cream

To de-grease skin as much as possible during the day, opt for a bouncy, oil-free formula like Tatcha The Water Cream ($72), which also happens to be non comedogenic and claims to help refine the look of pores. 

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Photo Credits: Tatcha
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A Gentle Night Cream

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($21) is oil- and fragrance-free, non comedogenic and features hyaluronic acid, ceramides and niacinamide to soothe skin as it treats.

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A Skin-Clearing Retinol

You know retinol for its ability to iron out the look of fine lines and wrinkles, but did you know it’s also a great addition to an acne regimen? While most dermatologists will prescribe a prescription-grade retinol for acne patients, over the counter options like Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment ($15) still pack a punch when it comes to clearing skin.

BUY NOW – $15

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